The Wii ushered in a new era of videogames, for better or for worse, forever changing the way we interface with games. Until the Wii, controllers were becoming more and more complex, adding more buttons and alienating would-be gamers with their increasingly obtuse interface. Imagine our surprise, then, when Sega announced a game in which your Wii remote only needed to be present - you had no need to even touch it in order to play.
Let's Tap challenges gamers to negotiate its five minigames by simply tapping a box on which the Wii Remote rests, upside down. These simple vibrations are enough to trigger the remote and thereby engage the player in a number of different, almost unanimously engaging experiences.
The menus are a little bit odd to use (single-tap to change a menu item, double tap to choose it), especially when you get a lot of options on screen. With such a simple interface you can't go backwards, obviously, so changing to the option you want can be a little laborious. You can pick up the wiimote and use it as a pointer but if you do, you'll need to calibrate it again (place it upside down and don't move / tap for a few seconds) before you can play again. Hardly the end of the world but compared to the rest of the package, it's a little clunky.
The five games start off with Tap Runner. Here you must tap in a rapid rhythm to make your little dude run along a straight line (up to four players can compete). Tap hard and your little guy will jump into the air - essential for navigating the increasingly complex routes. This game is surprisingly deep, with clever level designs that will challenge even the most dexterous player. Tapping fast enough to win can be quite onerous on those not used to making such a rapid, repetitive motion however.
Next up is Rhythm Tap - extremely similar to Donkey Kong Jungle Beat or even the recent Guitar Hero / Rock Band games. Simply tap your box (quiet in the cheap seats!) to the rhythm in different strengths as the song plays out. There are several different tracks of different speeds, all of which are fun in a rather syrupy kind of way - none of which are fun in a "man, i totally don't wish I could do this with my own music" way however. Despite the lack of custom soundtrack support, this mode is fun, easy to pick up and seriously challenging once you get a few tracks in.
Silent Blocks is one of the weaker games on offer - it's kind of like Jenga but considerably less tangible. The physics of the blocks you're trying to remove by tapping don't match reality, leading to some unpredictable results as you learn how it works. Once you do, you'll no doubt realise this isn't the best game in the bunch and probably end up leaving it for one of the games that are. It's okay but if this game were an album, this particular game wouldn't be released as a single.
Bubble Voyager was the most surprising game. On the surface, it's the simplest, but once you get into it you'll see the depth and addictive qualities that lurk underneath its deceptive veneer. Controlling a "Sonic in a spacesuit"-like character in a side-scrolling shooter, tap to go up, tap hard to fire and do nothing to go down. Think of it as like those simple flash games where your goal is simply to not crash anything with added weapons, power-ups and obstacles that need to be destroyed added in to the mix. Surprisingly fun.
Rounding out the package is a visualiser. On the surface, this collection of five different scenarios simply reacts to the taps, rendering fireworks, brushstrokes, splashes or bouncing balls according to the force applied by the user. Underneath you'll find that specific sequences will trigger specific events, giving some challenge and feedback to those that want it. Simply leave the box sitting around, however, and you'll no doubt engage even the very young as the pretty pictures react to their input.
All in all, it's a surprisingly competent package. On the surface, this seems like a gimmick and the very worst kind of "non-game" experience that Wii gamers whine about. If you give it a shot, however, you'll find something fun and challenging lurking underneath. It's just a pity there's no custom soundtrack and there's not really very many games on offer here - it would be nice to see a Warioware-style game that used this mechanic, for example. Given its budget price, gamers without prejudice or parents looking for something innovative shouldn't hesitate - Let's Tap is good clean fun.